Is your enterprise using the right set of business architecture components? Your firm may be following the tenets of business architecture – either as an established discipline with defined processes and artifacts, or sporadic attempts to model the enterprise in some way. Irrespective of whether it is a fine-tuned process or random attempts, there will be some semblance of business architecture is most established enterprises. Business architecture is foundational and integral to understanding a firm at its elemental building blocks.
Business architecture, more often than not, is burdened by frameworks and too many technologists masquerading as business architects. (That is a topic for another day.) The components of the business architecture are also not very well established and practiced uniformly across all enterprises in every industry. But this is a function of the flexibility and the fluidity based on the emerging thought leadership about what business architecture is and what components comprise the core of business architecture.
So what are the fundamental building blocks and business architecture components? Here is our take:
Strategy Clarification: Business architecture needs to start with understanding the “why” or the strategic rationale of an enterprise. Authors call it enterprise business motivation model. Following the business logic, strategy and operating model is essential to modeling the business and then linking execution to company strategy.
Business Capability Modeling: Business capabilities model is the cornerstone and the fountainhead of any successful business architecture effort. Business capabilities modeling helps capture what a company does in a structured hierarchical decomposition of business into its core building blocks.
Value Streams and Business Processes: Value streams are ideas borrowed from the LEAN and Six Sigma area. In business architecture, it deals with the flow of events from a stakeholder perspective. Business processes are detailed flows which capture the essence of how a business does its business.
Data: Capturing business entities and the subject areas is an integral part of the business architecture endeavor. Once the business information model is in place, it will help inform the data architects who will, in turn, define the conceptual, logical and physical data models.
Structure: Understanding the company structure – not necessarily the hierarchical organization charts – but understanding the roles, mapping the locations, listing the types of stakeholders, outlining the channels, and other such information is valuable for downstream architecture and solution development efforts.
Systems: Understanding the IT landscape – the servers and databases, the application and systems, the IT services, data centers et al. – is a critical step.
Specifications: Business architecture by definition is more the strategic architecture and hence does not directly bleed into SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) or the ALM (Application Lifecycle). However higher level capability evolution specifications will help the business architecture discipline provide the foundational information to downstream areas. One may stop at the high-level features and functions to create a capability development roadmap.
Heat Maps: Juxtaposing capabilities, value streams, and processes against a host of other parameters yield critical business architecture insights. Footprint analysis, heat maps, and other such visual aids are an essential input into executive decision making and lead to optimization efforts.
If business capabilities represent the “What,” the business processes represent the “How.” A business process is a construct with a definite start and finish. The well-known principle of SIPOC (Supplier, Inputs, Process, Output, Customer) delineates the decomposition of a business process.
It need not be a boil the ocean approach to creating all the components of business architecture in every situation. It should in line with the needs and exigencies of each case. Showing quick wins and helping along the transformation is perhaps more important than just producing business architecture artifacts.
Furthermore, a successful business architect is not just a creator, but a collaborator and a synthesizer. He/she will co-opt the deliverables from fellow professionals. For example, to overlay systems/services, the inventory and the attributes may come from an enterprise/technical architects. The data architecture team may provide a list of common data entities. Similarly, process architects and business analysts may contribute the one-click below drill down of process maps to align to each stage/step of a value stream.
In addition to the ones mentioned above, what other components of business architecture does your firm leverage? Which business architecture components do you feel are the high priority?
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